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Dining downtown before 'Hamilton'? Don't miss your shot

If you’re hungry before hitting Shea’s Buffalo Theatre for “Hamilton,” don’t waste your shot.

Here are some places I would suggest you consider for reasons practical and sentimental. Inform your server of your curtain time so they can make sure your experience fits into your allotted time, so you can save your evening’s drama for the stage.

Looking to raise a glass to freedom? Try a place with actual “Hamilton” characters on the walls. Founding Fathers Pub (75 Edward St.) is festooned with presidential portraits – like George Washington’s – and election memorabilia.

Angelica Tea Room (517 Washington St.) isn’t named after the Schuyler sister, but it is a classy operation where you can enjoy a classic cocktail, or tea and crustless sandwiches, while you ponder how lucky you are to be alive right now, you possessor of "Hamilton" tickets.

[Read more: Angelica Tea Room encourages flavor exploration]

Angelica Tea Room is a vibrant and innovative cocktail cavern located at 517 Washington St. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Another high-percentage destination for fanciers of innovative cocktail is Marble + Rye (112 Genesee St.), which backs up its top-flight burger and farm-to-table menu with a canny collection of custom concoctions.

Around the corner are two excellent restaurants well-accustomed to serving as theater launchpads. Seabar (475 Ellicott St.) is known for beef-on-weck sushi and the regular kind, with a broad array seafood and meat dishes, from rare seafood to Hawaiian surfer chow.

Toutant (437 Ellicott St.) draws crowds for its fried chicken, barbecue and more dishes influenced by Southern and Low Country cuisine, but also creates vegetable dishes to remember.

[Review: Toutant does soul food with a Southern accent]

Toutant's buttermilk fried half-chicken is a staple dish. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Another contender for barbecue seekers is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (301 Franklin St.) where the heart of a well-organized restaurant beats inside honky-tonk biker bar regalia.

If you want to be in the room when it happens, you can hardly do better than Bacchus (54 W. Chippewa St.), the fine-dining restaurant and wine bar. For years, theatergoers have been taking advantage of Bacchus’ complimentary valet parking, having dinner, then strolling to the theater. A nightcap upon returning for their cars is optional.

If you’re of a mind to celebrate immigrants – they get the job done – the area offers an array of restaurants informed by the influence of Italian cuisines. Frankie Primo’s +39 (51 W. Chippewa St.) offers an almost-fine-dining menu topping off its sandwiches, pastas and pizza with chops and seafood.

[Review: Frankie Primo's offers sophisticated taste of Italy]

Frankie Primo's +39 offers Risotto di Giamberetti, made with shrimp, sweet pea puree, fresh mint and extra virgin olive oil. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Tappo (338 Ellicott St.) and Osteria 166 (166 Franklin St.) offer more of a red-sauce Italian experience. Try Tappo’s eggplant Parmesan and beef short rib braciole, or Osteria's housemade ravioli or porchetta gnudi, chestnut flour dumplings topped with pork.

Bryson Bruce, center, as Lafayette and company members of "Hamilton." (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Immigrants are also getting it done at Expo (617 Main St.) a food hall that can do duty as a last-ditch fallback if other ideas fall through. The theater is just across the street.

Expo’s quick-serve options include Burmese curries, wraps and stir-fried dishes at Sun Roll, and made-to-order pasta at Osteria offshoot Mercato.

There’s also Mexican at Breezy Burrito Co., and healthy salads, grain bowls and wraps at Newbury Salads. Drinks include a full selection of alcoholic fortifications, courtesy of Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar.

Coco (888 Main St.) is about 10 minutes’ walk from Shea’s, so there are restaurants that are physically closer. None are closer in spirit, though, as Coco will be offering a Hamilton menu, with offerings such as an Aaron Burrger.

*Read more:
- Relax with a drink at hip GBGB
- Restaurant review of Osteria 166
- Stage regains control of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
- Bacchus raises the bar on downtown eating

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